Talented and troubled. That storyline has plagued Martavis Bryant for a long time. It continues to do so as his availability comes into question. His problems aren’t off the field — not right now, at any rate. Bryant was suspended for the 2016 season for substance abuse violations, but he apparently turned his life around. He stayed clean while playing 15 of 16 games last season for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Inside the locker room, things were a different story. Bryant expressed disappointment with his role in the offense, voicing a desire to be traded during the 2017 season. He also proclaimed via social media that he was better than teammate JuJu Smith-Schuster, an awkward statement that was not proven to be true on the field or in the box score.
The trade rumors have picked up again on Bryant, but the reality is this: Unless Pittsburgh gets an incredible offer, it is unlikely to part with the big receiver. Despite a down year in 2017, Bryant’s potential contributions if he puts it all together are assuredly worth more to the Steelers than any logical trade offer they could receive at this point. Plus, how many teams are going to offer mint compensation for a receiver one mistake away from another suspension, who has problems in the locker room, with one year on his deal after a poor season with one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL?
Bryant will more than likely remain in Pittsburgh for one more year before hitting the open market, but just for kicks, here are three potential suitors that would make sense for him if they shocked Pittsburgh with a big offer.
1. Indianapolis Colts
The Colts desperately need receiving help for Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton, and new head coach Frank Reich just saw what a big, downfield pass catcher can give an offense while watching Alshon Jeffery tear it up in Philadelphia. Bryant needs to be a lot more consistent in the air and at the catch point, but he has the speed and leaping ability to be a nightmare on the end of Andrew Luck’s deep balls.
His presence would allow the Colts’ passing attack to open up a whole new level of effectiveness, provided the team can help him take his game to the next level. With longtime NFL wide receiver coach Nick Sirianni on board as the offensive coordinator, the Colts may have the right medley of voices to speak to the talented pass catcher and get him to finally sharpen many of his rough edges.
2. Carolina Panthers
I’m not sure what Norv Turner is going to do in Carolina, except that it won’t be good, but Martavis Bryant would be a good fit with Cam Newton. He’s a more athletic version of Kelvin Benjamin with better tools to separate, and although I wasn’t a fan of Benjamin’s style, he and Newton put up big numbers together, especially touchdowns.
Of course, all these fits are predicated on Bryant improving from the player he was a year ago, which is the biggest question mark surrounding his value. There aren’t any teams Bryant could help on a significant level if he plays like he did last year, but if he gets back to his old form, the Panthers would make sense as a landing spot.
3. Baltimore Ravens
Why not? The Ravens love big, vertical threats with speed down the field, and they could be moving on from Breshad Perriman and Mike Wallace this offseason. Bryant would be the perfect fit in Baltimore, since his strengths mesh with what teams want in their outside receivers. His weaknesses (drops, inconsistent in contested catch spots, route-running) are all things the Ravens have ignored in the past when acquiring receiver talent.
If you are Baltimore, getting offensive weapons should be your top priority, and even though Pittsburgh isn’t going to give Bryant to anyone for cheap, let alone a division rival, the fit would make sense for the Ravens if they could pull it off.